Late in 2015, the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) made the announcement that nine exceptional independent brands were confirmed to begin participating at the fair starting January of 2016. For the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) this was, no doubt, a massive step to take. Because SIHH has otherwise always been dominated by big hitter brands from the Richemont Group, with a few exceptions such as Audemars Piguet and Parmigiani Fleurier, which are names that are at the end of the day, just as big as those from Richemont’s stables.

However, the question remained as to how the presence of the newcomers would work out for the veterans, and vice versa for that matter. Whatever the outcome may have been, this was a pivotal decision to have made in order for the fair to evolve.

Now that SIHH 2016 is well and over, it’s safe to say that the decision has worked out for the best. The presence of the independent brands, within the special floor space created for them – Carré des Horlogers – added a new dimension of vibrancy to the fair that has been previously unseen at SIHH.

So well has their presence worked out that in FHH’s recent press release for SIHH 2017, not only are all nine independents retained, but five others have been added to the ranks. Making for a grand total of 14 independents now at the Geneva fair. These five new names include: Grönefeld, MCT–Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps, Ressence, RJ-Romain Jerome and Speake-Marin.

In the same announcement, the FHH has now confirmed rumors from Basel that Girard-Perregaux is set to return to SIHH as of 2017. The Kering group, it seems, is meaning to be quite intentional with this decision, as it has also confirmed that Ulysse Nardin will as well be joining Girard-Perregaux in Geneva for SIHH 2017.

But the biggest news from FHH’s recent press release, yet remains to be discussed. Which is that SIHH, which has always been a by-invite only, trade fair for press and retail professionals, will be opening its doors to the public on the last day of its run in 2017. Entrance will be ticketed, and therefore controlled, but needless to say that this is a monumental decision on the organizers’ part.

In all fairness, this move is, however, not a completely unprecedented one. In recent years, brands under the Richemont umbrella – regular participant brands at SIHH for that matter – have all made a strategic drive towards opening up more and more points of sale that are under their direct control; brand boutiques basically. So while retail relationships are still important at the fair, the need to engage customers at SIHH, has become increasingly necessary as of late.

Therefore, what we have on one hand is that FHH is making a concerted effort to ensure that SIHH evolves to encompass greater flavors of products than it has ever before – by bringing in young innovative brands.

Concurrently, by opening the fair up to the public, albeit for just one day, the message that the brands are sending out is clear – that they are intending to become more accessible to their customers at the fair itself, just as they have done with their push for brand boutiques. All in all, both decisions making for a most intriguing SIHH in 2017. 

For now, at least, all that remains to be conveyed are the fair details – and to assure you that Revolution will be there in full force to bring you the latest and the greatest at the fair, both online and as well in our magazines.

Exhibitors

A.Lange & Söhne, Audemars Piguet, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, Girard-Perregaux, Greubel Forsey, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc, Panerai, Parmigiani, Piaget, Richard Mille, Roger Dubuis, Ulysse Nardin, Van Cleef & Arpels, Vacheron Constantin.

The “Carré des Horlogers”

Christophe Claret, Grönefeld, H. Moser & Cie, Hautlence, HYT, Kari Voutilainen, Laurent Ferrier, MB&F, MCT-Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps, Ressence, RJ-Romain Jerome, Speake-Marin, Urwerk.